Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Secret (West) Seattle

Over the years of adventuring in West Seattle, one of my favorite things has been discovering the little things all around us. I think that’s why, when I picked up Susanna Ryan’s new book Secret Seattle the other week, I spent the rest of the afternoon reading it cover to cover. The illustrations and writing are super fun but so was discovering someone else who enjoys finding hidden gems in our city, many of them my favorite finds in West Seattle.

Like so many others folks I have reached out to with this project she not only wrote back but graciously answered questions and offered advice. I was so inspired by it all that I decided to write a post about secret spots in West Seattle—hers and mine—and some less secret than others.

  • Click here for a Google map I created of all the spots below.
  • The asterisks (*) denote a spot that is also covered in Susanna’s book, which you can check out a copy of at the library, purchase one at a local bookshop (Paperboat or Pegasus) or through her Instagram account (@seattlewalkreport)
  • Images above: College Street Ravine east entrance, Thistle Street Stairs, LOVE art in Lincoln Park and Salmon Bone Bridge along Longfellow Creek Trail.
Hidden Gems
  • Camp Long*
    5200 35th Ave SW
    Hands down my favorite gem in all of WS. I’ve written about it in several posts already: Off-leash Kids, Take A Hike and Unplayground Playgrounds
  • College Street Ravine
    Two entrances to trail:  5050 SW College St (west entrance) / SW Neize Ct & 48th Ave SW (SE entrance)
    A couple summers ago we came across this fun little trail when doing an urban adventure. I'm hoping the cool wooden sign and box of poetry are still there.
  • Longfellow Creek Trail* Updated 6/21/22—Recommend not exploring for now due to different conditions throughout the trail.
    Several starting points. Visit SPR website for details and a map.
    I remember when this trail opened years ago and we walked it end to end. We've also attended nature classes and walks and done sections at a time here and there. Our last adventure started at Dragonfly Garden and Pavilion with a walk down to the Salmon Bone Bridge and back to see if we could spot any returning salmon when I read about it on the Salmon SEE-son website. Although it's been a while since we've explore the trails end to end and I've heard several spots are overdue for maintenance there are several trail work parties through GreenSeattle to work to keep this a viable outdoor resource if you'd like to volunteer too. 

  • Pelly Place Natural Area*
    6762 Murray Ave SW
    We discovered this off-the-beaten spot last year when we were doing one of the Seattle Stairway walks and took a detour down a different street. It’s just an in-and-out short path but super fun to discover.
  • South Seattle Arboretum*
    6000 16th Ave SW
    I first wrote about this spot in my Unplayground Playground post having discovered it when we were part of the SCC preschool co-op on campus. Today we ride our bikes from our house or use it as a launching point for exploring the trails of the West Duwamish Greenbelt. Extra special is the Chinese Garden.
  • Sea Glass Hunting on Alki*
    1702 Alki Ave SW
    When we first moved to West Seattle, friends of ours who lived on Alki brought us a housewarming gift of a votive filled with sea glass that their family had collected on the beach. Years later, when we had kids, we started adding our own Alki sea glass to it.
    Added 6/21/22—While your are there take a side trip to Whale Tail Park
  • Thistle Street Stairs*
    SW Thistle Street from Northrop Place SW to 46th Ave SW
    We came across these stairs on the same stairway walk where we discovered Pelly Place. The Desmond Hansen mural alone is worth the trip but you'll also get a hearty workout and maybe even tucker out little legs for a long nap.
    Added 6/21/22—I've since discovered the highest stair in the city is right here in West Seattle plus several others around the peninsula and beyond. See links to them all here
Secrets of popular parks
  • Alki Beach Park*
    2665 Alki Ave SW
    Along with finding sea glass on the beach there are three time capsules I learned about in Susanna's book—two at the Alki Monument and one at the mini Statue of Liberty that will all be unearthed in 2050.
  • Fauntleroy Park
    3951 SW Barton Street, across from SW Henderson Street
    (One of several entrances to the park. See "Take A Hike" post for more details on entrances and parking.)

    Similar to Camp Long and Schmitz Park, I love this spot for so many reasons. My latest discovery is a series of wetland stones throughout the park that I've just started to research the story behind. I've marked the three I've found on the map I made and hope to learn more soon. 
    For more details about the park you can check out my earlier posts: Off-leash Kids, Take A HikeUnplayground Playgrounds and Following The Salmon
  • Hiawatha Playfield*
    2700 California Ave SW
    Lots places to play and some interesting history as well. The park is one of several designed by the Olmsted Brothers and the community center was the first public recreation building in Seattle.
    Added 6/21/22—Pair with a tree walk located in both the park and another one around the neighborhood.
  • Lincoln Park*
    8011 Fauntleroy Way SW
    Within this well-known park are several favorite little finds—the gargoyle west of the (still-to-be-replaced) south play area, the always changing LOVE art north of the pool and the WPA stamps along the seawall. For more details about the park you can check out my earlier posts: Off-leash KidsTake A Hike and Unplayground Playgrounds.
  • Schmitz Park*
    5551 SW Admiral Way SW
    A great place to do a forested hike any time of year. You can also keep an eye out for these gems—the log alligator, an historic bridge and a small entrance with a wooden bigfoot and a sanctuary tee-pee. For more details about the park you can check out my earlier posts: Off-leash KidsTake A Hike and Unplayground Playgrounds.
Tiny Parks, Big Views
Port of Seattle Parks
  • Terminal 107 Park* (now called həʔapus Village Park & Shoreline Habitat)
    4500 Duwamish Trail
    Check out my post from a couple weeks ago that talks about this park and many other hidden gems in the area—Exploring the Duwamish.
  • Jack Block Park*
    2130 Harbor Ave SW
    I first learned about this park from another parent back when our kiddos were still in strollers. Since then it’s been a great spot for playdates, riding bikes and taking out-of-town visitors to for the views. You can read about it in my Off-leash Kids and Unplayground Playgrounds posts.
Star Signs
  • Alki Homestead*
    61st Ave SW
    If you go to see the sign you could pair it with the other Alki spots listed above as well as a trip to Alki Playground (aka Whale Tail Park) or the Log Cabin Museum, which in my list of Fall Fun for Families post last week.